Less than two days until the launch of the historic One-Year Mission in space

Researchers from the US and Russia prepare for the final countdown to the launch of the historic One-Year Mission as the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft, which will carry the crew, is transported to its final ground location: the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The One-Year Mission is an international collaboration between the US and Russia that will investigate how the human body responds to weightlessness, isolation, radiation and stress of long-duration spaceflight. The crew consists of NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), who will live onboard the International Space Station (ISS) for one year.

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NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (left) and Russian astronaut Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos, the two-man crew of the One-Year Mission.
NASA/Bill Stafford

Because of the low or no-gravity environment, fluids within the human body – such as blood and water – shift to the upper body. Fluids play an important role in our health; you can feel the effects of its redistribution when your legs swell during a long flight or when you get dizzy from standing up too quickly. Fluids also impact your vision.

So researchers will be collecting non-invasive physiological data from the two-man crew based on seven categories of interest: visual impairment, physical performance, functional tasks, behavioral health, metabolic, microbial, and human factors (such as how well crew members remember what they learned on the ground).

The mission is considered a stepping stone to future expeditions to Mars and beyond.

Kelly and Kornienko will be joined by Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos on their journey to the International Space Station. Their spacecraft, the Soyuz TMA-16M, is scheduled for take-off on 27 March, 3:42 p.m. EST. But Kelly and Kornienko will not return to Earth until March 2016, onboard the Soyuz TMA-18M.

In addition to the research being done by the One-Year Mission, Kelly is a part of NASA’s Twins study with his identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, who is also an astronaut. The Twins study will provide more insight into subtle physiological changes that occur from spaceflight by comparing the shared genetics of the two individuals whilst they are living in different environments – on space and on Earth – for one year.

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